Male hormones may promote infection by virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma

September 28, 2017, Public Library of Science
Working model of AR-mediated phosphorylation of EphA2 at Ser897 which facilitates the KSHV entry. Credit: Wang X, et al. (2017)

Male hormones may facilitate infection with a virus that can cause a type of cancer known as Kaposi's sarcoma. This finding, published in PLOS Pathogens by Ke Lan's group of the State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan University, China, could help explain why men have an increased risk of developing Kaposi's sarcoma.

Earlier studies have suggested that men are more vulnerable to infection with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and more DNA from this virus is detected in infected men than in infected women. This suggests that may influence KSHV infection, but their precise role has remained mysterious.

To investigate how male hormones might influence KSHV infection, the authors of the new study performed a variety of experiments with human cell cultures. These experiments focused on the , a protein found in the outer membrane of some . Both men and women have androgen , but they are activated by hormones (such as testosterone) that are produced at much higher levels in men.

The researchers used a technique known as RNA interference to inhibit androgen receptor activity in the and then exposed the cells to KSHV. They found that AR inhibition led to much lower levels of KSHV genetic material detected in the cells than in control cells. Cells treated with 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that activates the androgen receptor, had increased levels of KSHV. This suggests that both the androgen receptor and DHT promote KSHV infection.

Further experiments revealed the molecular details of this effect. The researchers found that the androgen receptor triggers a molecular signaling pathway that primes another receptor known as ephrin receptor A2 to permit KSHV to enter the cell—the first step of infection.

With further research, these findings could help guide efforts to develop drugs that could prevent KSHV infection and reduce the risk of Kaposi's sarcoma. Since ephrin receptor A2 is also involved in other viral infections, such as hepatitis C, the findings could be relevant to other diseases as well.

"Male hormones," the authors further explain, "facilitate Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection through activation of viral receptor EphA2."

Explore further: Viral microRNAs responsible for causing AIDS-related cancer

More information: Wang X, Zou Z, Deng Z, Liang D, Zhou X, Sun R, et al. (2017) Male hormones activate EphA2 to facilitate Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection: Implications for gender disparity in Kaposi's sarcoma. PLoS Pathog 13(9): e1006580. doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006580

Related Stories

Viral microRNAs responsible for causing AIDS-related cancer

January 13, 2014
For the first time, scientists and engineers have identified a critical cancer-causing component in the virus that causes Kaposi's sarcoma, the most common cancer among HIV-infected people. The discovery lays the foundation ...

Chimera viruses can help the fight against lymphomas

September 15, 2017
Researchers from Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) Lisboa have created a chimera virus that allows the study of molecules to treat cancers caused by human herpes virus infection in mice models of disease.

Study identifies trigger for alternate reproduction of HIV-related cancer virus

April 17, 2012
A research team led by Children's National Medical Center has identified a trigger that causes latent Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) to rapidly replicate itself. KSHV causes Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion ...

Recommended for you

Research finds new mechanism that can cause the spread of deadly infection

April 20, 2018
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered a unique mechanism that drives the spread of a deadly infection.

Selection of a pyrethroid metabolic enzyme CYP9K1 by malaria control activities

April 20, 2018
Researchers from LSTM, with partners from a number of international institutions, have shown the rapid selection of a novel P450 enzyme leading to insecticide resistance in a major malaria vector.

Low-cost anti-hookworm drug boosts female farmers' physical fitness

April 19, 2018
Impoverished female farm workers infected with intestinal parasites known as hookworms saw significant improvements in physical fitness when they were treated with a low-cost deworming drug. The benefits were seen even in ...

Study predicts 2018 flu vaccine will have 20 percent efficacy

April 19, 2018
A Rice University study predicts that this fall's flu vaccine—a new H3N2 formulation for the first time since 2015—will likely have the same reduced efficacy against the dominant circulating strain of influenza A as the ...

Zika presents hot spots in brains of chicken embryos

April 19, 2018
Zika prefers certain "hot spots" in the brains of chicken embryos, offering insight into how brain development is affected by the virus.

Super-superbug clones invade Gulf States

April 18, 2018
A new wave of highly antibiotic resistant superbugs has been found in the Middle East Gulf States, discovered by University of Queensland researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.